Lord Jagannatha Snana Yatra: The Sacred Bathing Ceremony

Lord Jagannatha Snana Yatra: The Sacred Bathing Ceremony

Lord Jagannatha (an abstract representation of Lord Vishnu) Snana Yatra, also known as Devasnana Purnima or Snana Yatra, is a highly significant and sacred festival celebrated in the month of Jyestha (June-July) on the full moon day. This auspicious occasion takes place a fortnight before the Rath Yatra festival and attracts thousands of pilgrims from around the world to witness the bathing ceremony of Lord Jagannatha and seek the blessings of the divine deities. The festival holds immense importance as it is believed that observing the Lord on this day can cleanse one’s sins. This essay will explore the rituals and traditions associated with Lord Jagannatha Snana Yatra, shedding light on its profound significance.

Historical Significance

According to the Skanda Purana, the Snana Yatra has its roots in the time when King Indradyumna installed the wooden deities.

To commemorate this auspicious occasion, the bathing ceremony was initiated. On the morning of Snana Yatra, a grand procession called ‘Pahandi’ takes place, where the idols of Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balabhadra, Goddess Subhadra, and Lord Sudarshana are carried from the inner sanctum of the main temple to the bathing pandal known as ‘Snana Mandapa’ or ‘Snana Bedi.’ This platform is strategically located to provide a clear view of the deities to the devotees gathered outside the temple.

The Ritual of Jalabhisheka

One of the highlights of Lord Jagannatha Snana Yatra is the ritual of Jalabhisheka, which translates to the ceremonial bath with water. To commence this ritual, the Suaras and Mahasuaras, a specific group of temple servitors, embark on a procession to fetch 108 pots of water from the Golden well known as ‘Suna Kua.’ The water drawn from this well is considered holy and is preserved in the Bhoga Mandap, where it is purified using turmeric, whole rice, sandalwood, flowers, and perfumes. With utmost devotion, the Suaras carry the filled and purified water pots in a single line queue from the Bhoga Mandap to the bathing platform.

The Divine Bath

The divine bath of Lord Jagannatha Snana Yatra is a spectacle witnessed by thousands of devotees. Out of the 108 pots, 35 pots of water are poured over Lord Jagannatha, 33 pots over Lord Balabhadra, 22 pots over Goddess Subhadra, and 18 pots over Lord Sudarshan. The priests chant Vedic mantras, while kirtana and the sound of conch shells fill the air, adding to the divine atmosphere. The unique aspect of this bathing ceremony is that the deities openly enjoy their bath on the Snana Bedi, allowing their devotees to witness and participate in their purification.

Hati Vesha – The Elephant Attire

After the Snana Yatra and the bathing ritual, the deities assume a special elephant form, which is referred to as ‘Hati Vesha’ or ‘Gajanana Vesha.’ Lord Jagannatha and Lord Balaram appear dressed like elephants, while Goddess Subhadra adorns a lotus flower vesha. This transformation adds a sense of awe and wonder to the festival, captivating the hearts of devotees.

Anasara Period and Reappearance

Following the Snana Yatra, the deities are believed to fall ill and enter a period known as Anasara or Anabasara. In a solemn procession, the deities, except Madanamohana, are carried back to the temple and placed in a secluded area called ‘Anasara Pindi’ or ‘Anasara Ghara.’ This period lasts for 15 days, during which the deities remain away from public view. It is during this time that the Daitapati servitors perform secret rituals known as Anasarariti to care for the deities. The daily rites of the temple are suspended, and devotees flock to the Alarnatha Temple in Bramhagiri, where Lord Jagannatha is believed to manifest as Lord Alarnatha.

During the Anasara period, the deities are offered only fruits, water mixed with cheese, and Dasamula medicines to help them recover from their supposed illness. The Raj Vaidya, the physician appointed by the king, administers specific medicines known as Dasamulas to the deities. The devotees eagerly await the end of the Anasara period, seeking the rejuvenation and reappearance of their beloved Lord Jagannatha.

Netrastova – Festival of the Eyes

After the 15-day Anasara period, the deities undergo a significant transformation. The Daitas repaint the deities with new colors, revitalizing their divine forms. On the 16th day, the deities emerge in their fresh and vibrant appearances, ready to be presented to the public. A special rite called ‘Netrastova’ or ‘Nava Jaubana’ takes place during this time, symbolizing the festival for the eyes or the festival of new youth. Devotees eagerly gather to witness this momentous occasion and receive the darshan of the deities in their renewed forms.


The Lord Jagannatha Snana Yatra, also known as Devasnana Purnima or Snana Yatra, holds immense religious and cultural significance. This sacred festival, marked by the bathing ceremony of Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balabhadra, Goddess Subhadra, and Lord Sudarshan, attracts pilgrims from far and wide. The rituals, including the fetching of holy water, the Jalabhisheka, and the grand procession, create a divine atmosphere that resonates with the deep devotion of the devotees. The subsequent Anasara period and the rejuvenation of the deities add further charm and excitement to the festival. Lord Jagannatha Snana Yatra serves as a reminder of the divine presence and a means for devotees to seek blessings, cleanse their sins, and deepen their spiritual connection with the Lord.

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